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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

Class Of 2003 Combo/SG's: SCH's Fall Post-Summer,
Pre-Season Top Players--(Aug. 31, 2000)

It's time for SoCalHoops' own annual post-summer, pre-season fall list of "Top Players in SoCal" at each position in each class. The second group we're going to focus on is the class of 2003's shooting and combo guards. We've selected the top 50 guys we know about in the class at these positions. We've broken them down into two groups, (Top 10, and Next Top 40), but we have not used numerical rankings. Likewise, we also haven't really tried to differentiate between the combos and the shooting guards per se (as we have done with prior classes), because we just don't have enough of a basis to start to draw those kind of distinctions. . . at least not yet.

Again, we don't use numerical rankings.  Maybe we should, and maybe someday we will, but for now we haven't used numbers to rank these guys. If you want an understanding of why we don't, it follows at the bottom of the list (we've changed the format this year to place our long-winded preamble at the bottom, so you can just get right to the list if you want to. . . but we caution anyone reading this:  Look at the text which follows to really understand what you're looking at and why we've listed the players in the way we have.  If you don't read it, please don't come crying to us about any misconceptions you have about what we're trying to do with such lists).

These are the guys we believe have shown a lot of promise within the current rising-sophomore class at the off-guard and combo guard positions. If we've left a player off the list, it may or may not be an oversight, but if you think someone deserves to be on the list who isn't shown, just let us know. 

SoCalHoops Top 10 Shooting/Combo guards--Class of 2003

Santiago Aguirre   6'-3" So. SG/PG   Santa Barbara
Mark Bradford   6'-0" So. G   Fremont
Avi Fogel 6'-0" So. PG/SG Torrey Pines
Jimmy Goffredo   5-11 So. SG   Crescenta Valley
Sean Marshall   6-4 So. SG   Rialto Eisenhower
Steve Smith   6-2 So. SG   LA Taft
Drew Terry   6-3 So. SG   Irvine Northwood
Wesley Washington   6-2 So. SG   Fontana
Omar Wilkes   6-1 So. SG   Loyola
Sinqua Walls   6'-1" So. PG/G   Pacific Hills

SoCalHoops Next Top 40 Shooting/Combo--Class of 2003

Richie Aronson   6'-0" So. G   Capistrano Valley
Steven Bambauer   6'-3" So. SG   Esperanza
Michael Bell   6'-3" So. G   Verbum Dei
Rick Blackmon    6'-0" So. G LACES
Devery Butler   6'-1" So. G   Rancho Verde
Jake Collins   6'-2" So. SG   Santa Margarita
David Cotton   6'-0" So. G   Artesia
Jeremy Cross   6'-1 So. SG    Rancho Buena Vista
Matt Danison   6'-1" So. G   El  Toro
Dino Fekaris   5'-9" So. G   Crespi
Ricky Fosheim   5'-10" So. G   Laguna Hills
Justin Hawkins   6'-2" So. G   Mayfair
Kyle Hogan   6'-2" So. G   Villa Park
Matt Kaplan 6'-4" So. SG Claremont
Jared Knight   6'-1" So. G   Long Beach Poly
Eric Lane   5'-10" So. G   St. John Bosco
Gerred Link   5'-11" So. G   Chaminade
Sean McDermott   6'-2" So. G  Stoneridge Prep
Jeff Mee   6'-1" So. SG   Trabuco Hills
Nate Miller   5'-11" So. G   Anaheim
Jonathan Moore   6'-0" So. G   Claremont
Ryan Morrell   5'-11" So. G   Capistrano Valley
Charles Oliver   6'-0" So. G   Claremont
Brandon Peace   6'-0" So.G   Bishop Montgomery
Doug Peterson   6'-1" So. SG   Lakewood
John Pohlen   6'-2" So. SG/G   Brea Olinda
James Reynolds 6'1" So. PG/G Redondo Union
Brandon Rush   6'-1" So. G   St. John Bosco
Jonathan Shaw   6'-1" So. G   Sunny Hills
Terry Simms II   6'-1" So. SG   Ayala
Trone Smith   6'-1" So. G   Canyon Springs
Matt Susson 5'-10" So. SG Northwood
Kenny Taylor   6'-2"  So. G   St. John Bosco
Devon Thomas   6'-0" So. G   Pasadena Muir
Grayland Walter   6'-1" So. G   JW North
Mike Watson   5'-9" So. G   El Camino
Raynell Watts   5'-11" So. G   Crenshaw
Earl Wilson   6'-1" So. G   Claremont
Jake Wohlfeil   6'-3" So. SG   El Cajon Christian

More notes, thoughts and rationalizations:

At the risk of repeating the same thing we wrote in connection with our list of point guards in this class, here we go again:  We've listed those players we believe are among the best who have played particularly well where and when we've seen them, and that may be over the course of several years, but it certainly takes into account the way we thought these guys performed this past summer and spring, especially at some of the "high profile" events, camps and tournaments in which they've participated. We've reviewed all of our prior lists, all the rosters from tournaments we viewed this summer, re-read articles we've written since last April, and reviewed our notes and tapes of players. The list include players from Fresno in the North, to San Diego in the South, i.e., the entire SoCal region.

We've tried to list players at what we think are their "primary" positions. That means that if we think a guy is a point guard, you'll find him on the point guard list.  But you might also try the combo/shooting guard list (above) because there's obviously some crossover going on here. Others may disagree, and think a guy should be listed elsewhere, so your best bet if you don't see someone listed here is to check the other lists within a class (e.g., the other
positions within the class of 2003). The list above is, quite obviously, rising-sophomore shooting and combo guards. From our point of view, a  "shooting guard" is generally just what you think it means: Someone's whose primary job is to shoot the ball, either as a spot up shooter, catching and releasing, or coming off screens; someone who can spot up from either in close or three-point range, and someone who defends the other team's off-guard. The position is sometimes called "combo" guard, and occasionally you'll see these guys bringing the ball up, setting up the offense. The phrase "two guard," or "off guard" is sometimes used to describe this position. 

No numerical rankings? Why not? Here's why: 

Because we don't like them very much, and they really tell you very little about how a player actually plays or what his potential is (not that grouping them into "top 10" or any other type of largely undifferentiated list does either). But let's face it, anyone and everyone can argue with anyone else's numerical selections until the cows come home, and the point of numerical rankings for most of the guys who compile such "rankings" is to demonstrate what they think they saw in a player, i.e., their opinion. Is a guy a high-major? Mid-major? Low-major? Should he be recruited at all? Who knows. Obviously the guys who use numerical rankings think they know, and that's fine. Some of the others who use numbers to rank players may really be as omniscient as they think they are, but we're not willing to venture there. Others who use numbers to rank players will tell you that it's their "job" to rank players, that college coaches expect them to do that because their opinions, over many years, are well-respected, or because that they are providing a service to college coaches and that's what they're getting paid to do. Thus they are putting their own reputations on the line when they rank a player. When they say a player is "No. 1", they mean it. Really. 

Er, um, ok. We've got no quarrel with that. Those services (generally we mean services that are not available to the general public, so we are not talking about those which are available to the public online for free) who use numerical rankings have a job to do, and that's how they've defined their tasks, or at least how they believe the college coaches who subscribe have defined their jobs. Again, we can't quarrel with that. . . it's a free country and everyone is entitled to earn a living the way they want, or go broke trying. Our's is a different focus however. And we mean it to be. 

From our perspective, college coaches will make up their own minds anyway about what level a player can and will get recruited at. We could rank players numerically, simply as an expression of opinion, but to do so in our view only creates a false sense of accomplishment for some of these players, or creates a situation where someone's ego gets articifically bruised because his ranking "dropped." For most of these kids, that's the last thing they need to see, at least not on a publicly accessible, free website. In short, we don't think that's a useful exercise which really has much value other than to say one work in progress may be proceeding faster than another. 

From a recruiting perspective, we think the point is simply to identify good, solid players. Our experience has been that when someone asks us "How high will this guy get recruited?" the real answer is, "About as high as he actually gets recruited." In other words, a player gets recruited by the schools who recruit him largely because a coach has watched him, thinks the player's skill level fits and will help his program, and that's about the bottom line. It's generally not based on whether scout X ranked a kid numerically or thought he was the "best player in the class." That may help a kid's recruiting, no doubt about it because often, college coaches don't have the time to really get out and watch. No doubt about it, scouts and recruiting services can help and they can also hurt a player with a negative review or assessment. But that's not our intent. If listing these guys helps them get noticed by a college coach, great. We doubt though that anything we write will hurt or impede a kid's recruiting. 

Numerical rankings, at least when you're talking about high school players, especially ones as young as sophomores, also strike us as a largely misplaced exercise because in a lot of ways, it's unfair to base such player "comparisons" (which is what numerical rankings are after all, a way of expressing that one guy is "better" than another, or that one guy is not as good as the others, by degrees) based on just watching one, two or even five games. Sure, one can get an idea about how a player plays by watching a series of games over a tournament or two. But one just never knows if, during a three or four day period, the kind of play one happens to be seeing is really typical or whether a player is having an "off" day, or the game of his life.  That's why extended viewings are better, but it's also why we think rankings, especially with the huge pool of players who play in SoCal is sometimes not a very useful exercise.

And also keep in mind, many people look at such lists for differing reasons. Every player or parent of a player wants to look at a list to see where they or their kid is "ranked" in comparison to other players.  That's great. There are plenty of lists out there that can be had which will tell them what they want to know, or at least what someone else thinks about them or their kid. This list isn't one of those.

College coaches who peruse our various lists perform their own evaluations. That's our experience and that's what they tell us. The point of our lists is not to rank players, but to get the word out about players to those in a position to eventually do something about recruiting these guys that we think they are worth taking a look at. Beyond that, most club coaches, high school coaches, fans and other players already know about the guys listed here, and likewise, so do a lot of the college coaches. While it's our goal to have more of them check these guys out sometime during the next three years, beyond generally identifying the guys we think are good, in some cases really good, that's about the extent of where we want to take the lists. We'd be happy to express our personal opinions on various degrees of preference we have for one player over another in private if a coach asks us, but we're not going to do that publicly, at least not here and not now. 

In short, the guys who are listed above are those who we believe deserve special attention. Some (the "Top 10") probably have demonstrated more ability and potential at this moment than some of the others listed.   But these are just high school kids, young rising sophomores, who have one year of high school under their belt and three more to go. And to list only 30 out of the more than 10,000+ players who play in SoCal is, to some extent, the height of arrogance. We don't mean to be arrogant about it, but in our view taking that one step further by numerically ranking these guys would be folly at its worst. 

Some of the players will be good enough eventually and lucky enough to get recruited at the D-I level, while others will get recruited at various other levels, whether D-II, D-III or NAIA. Some will wind up at JUCO's because they may not qualify. All of them have the chance to, but they'll need to get it done in the classroom first. The bottom line is that it's too early to tell what will happen to these players. And that's also one of their real plusses too: They're young, have got more of their high school careers in front of them than they have behind them, and if they work hard and are lucky enough to avoid injury, they'll continue to improve, get bigger, stronger, and eventually make it to the next level. 

Lastly, another caveat: We obviously have not seen every player in SoCal in the sophomore class. We try to watch players over the entire course of a year. We can't be everywhere. With many of these guys we've seen them over a course of years, started watching them while they were playing in youth leagues. Others we saw for the first time this summer. Again, we haven't seen everyone everywhere, and thus there are bound to be guys we've left off the lists, but these are simply the players who we thought merited special attention that we have seen.

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